ADS ON TEST: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

ASKING PRICE: £120,000

ADS ON TEST: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

by Classic Cars |
Published on

This is top money for a Mercedes 190SL, but this example leaves little for the next owner to do other than enjoy it, says our tester Richard Gunn.

It's difficult to find any flaw with the exterior of this lovely off-white Roadster. It came over to the UK from Los Angeles in 2010 and had a bare metal restoration and engine rebuild at Redcastle Classics, when the odometer was also reset. Since then, it’s covered fewer than 3500 miles, and remains immaculate. That includes the chromework as well as the paint – everything just sparkles and shines. A new black Sonnerland hood was fitted during its rebuild and is in equally superb order as everything else. Underneath, the car is painted body colour – as it would have been when new – rather than having black underseal slapped on it.

ADS ON TEST: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

The scarlet leather interior and carpeting are so bright that sunglasses are almost necessary. Nearly everything is spotless – even the white steering wheel seems to have shrugged off dirt and grime, and there’s little evidence of wear. There are some small black marks on the carpet, but that’s the only thing that detracts from an interior that is otherwise in practically concours condition – although a picky judge might knock a few points off for the non-functioning clock. However, they might then put them back on again when they notice the functioning Blaupunkt period radio alongside it.

The same standards continue under the bonnet, where the engine installation is almost as elegant as everything else. The work in 2010 included a rebore, the crankshaft was reground, new Mahle pistons were fitted and the valve guides, valves and springs were replaced. The Solex carburettors were also rebuilt. Consequently, this is an engine you’d be proud to show off. It looks completely stock, even down to the factory warning stickers – although more modern ones do point to Evans waterless coolant now being used; like the rest of the fluids, it’s clean and at the desired level. The history box contains details of work since the renovation, although the only items retained from before this time are its Californian numberplates.

ADS ON TEST: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

Start the engine and the oil pressure needle goes to the end of its dial – a good start. The choke can be pushed home quickly, although you’ll want to find out why the engine isn’t running smoothly before you commit to buying. There’s quite a metallic note from the stainless steel exhaust. The almost delicate gearlever is able to be snicked through its four ratios (plus reverse) with ease, while the brakes – with their brake booster, the original item rebuilt – are very effective. For a 64-year-old convertible, this car feels incredibly stable on the open road, still behaving itself just as Stuttgart must have intended all those years ago.

This is a beautiful-looking example of one of Mercedes-Benz’s most stylish and graceful post-war machines, and is practically pristine both inside and out. While the price tag isn’t cheap, it’s justified given the quality of the work that has been carried out, and the condition in which the car remains. There really is very little to find fault with anywhere.

This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and the Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.

Price £120,000 Engine 1897cc four-cylinder, sohc Power 120bhp @ 5700rpm Torque 101lb ft @ 3800rpm Top speed 100mph 0-60mph 13sec Fuel consumption 25-33mpg Length 4290mm Width 1740mm

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